It's a date

Looking for love – or a bit of a flirt? Grab your trainers and head to London’s parks to mingle with the handsome and honed

Image by JP Masclet

I met Most Naughty Girlfriend for dinner at Benares the other night and she was in a tizz. Over Atul Kochhar’s excellent foie gras with chat masala, she broke down. Three months ago she met the man of her dreams. Until now the updates have been glowing. He is gorgeous, intelligent, supportive of her career, with a wicked streak and wild in bed. Too good to be true? ‘He’s really perfect in every way,’ she sobbed. ‘There’s just one thing... his wife.’

American journalist Mark Gimein has put forward a great explanation of why women in their 30s have such miserable luck on the dating scene based on game theory. According to his Eligible-Bachelor paradox, the deal is that the women with the most going for them hold out for the best man possible and while they are waiting for this chimera, the other gals snap up all the realistic ones and nest like fury. Which leaves a pool of desirable females facing a puddle of half-decent guys. Unless she is happy to abandon thoughts of a family, this leaves her in what City folk call a bear market. Which means you need to keep up.

After six weeks going to the Ellis Stockwell gym in St John’s Wood, my body fat has plummeted and I’ve lost three inches off my waist. Besides developing a ‘sweet right punch’ (can there be a greater compliment?) and earning the nickname ‘Rocky’, I can run for an hour without it hurting and fit into a slinky size 8 Alaïa dress I wore when I was 16. I’ve never looked better naked and have bought an entire new wardrobe of underwear from Dolce V to, ahem, show off my assets.

Still, all this exercise is horribly addictive. Where Tory MPs seem to easily succumb to sex addiction, I have developed an equally unlikely fetish for sport.

To use this super-fitness, I did something I swore I’d never do and signed up to run a marathon. It is at least in the sun – in the Lewa game reserve in Kenya, Prince William’s favourite African escape, with the proceeds going to TUSK’s wildlife and community conservation projects.

It has proved a good stimulus to my running regime and I’ve taken to early morning loops of the Serpentine. Who knew London was so sociable at this hour. Or frankly, so attractive. There is an entire underworld of meeting, greeting, flirting, etc. The hottest people linger round the south side of the Serpentine, where the café also does a reasonable cappuccino. The best icebreaker is a dog – every one loves a puppy – but if all else fails, you can always ask advice on stretching those pesky quad muscles.

One of the other advantages of all this exercise is the ability to eat guilt-free. Just as well, with yet another offering from Gordon Ramsay, the York and Albany pub in Camden, opening soon. Suddenly pubs seem flavour of the month, with Piers Adams, Guy Pelly and Guy Ritchie’s new place, The Punch Bowl in Mayfair, proving popular.

I’d still rather hang out in the new Connaught bar, refitted by David Collins as part of their £70m relaunch, but occasionally I suppose it’s OK to compromise.

Back to the subject of addictions, Most Fashionable Girlfriend came back from Naomi Campbell’s birthday bash on the Aeolian Islands with a new one. Naomi’s endlessly perfect eyelashes fascinated MFG. One of Naomi’s friends spilled the secret that they were part of a new wave of lash extensions and after a bit of research MFG booked herself into Jinny Lash, a little room on James Street by Selfridges, where Jinny and her team will add up to 100 extra lashes.

She, and now the rest of us, are hooked. The problem is once you start there is no turning back. Apparently it is the same deal with Botox – so sisters, hold off.

While MFG holidayed with Naomi, Man of the Moment was roped in to a trip with his sister, nephew and a gaggle of the boy’s school chums. Happily they shared a common love of football, so (minus the beer) it wasn’t too different for him from hanging out with his usual crew. Driving home from the pitch, the conversation turned to religion. One kid announced that he was Jewish. Another that he was Christian. Then one piped up with: ‘I’m Bank of England’. As I say, not too different. Out of the mouths of babes and sucklings.

Original article published in The London Magazine, in August, 2008

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